Nature in All Its Glory

Hold Your Breath: This Couple Freedives with Sharks (and Lives to Photograph Them)

by Eusebio and Christina Saenz de Santamaria

Photo by One Ocean One Breath, courtesy of Sidetracked

Shark Week has resurfaced once again and this year we're safely dipping into the sea through an excerpt from the inaugural issue of Sidetracked, one of our 24 Best Indie Magazines for Travelers. In it, professional husband-and-wife freediving team One Ocean One Breath writes about coming face to face with Caribbean Reef Sharks in the spectacular blue waters off Honduras. 

ROATÁN, Honduras – Deep below the surface glided one of the largest apex predators in the reef ecosystem, the revered Caribbean Reef Shark. Not, this time, a lone hunter, but a shiver of over twenty – their sleek, powerful bodies circling us – slicing through the water, at home and at ease. Waiting for us. 

Plunging downward, we focused on slow fluid motions, arms close by our sides, propelling ourselves deeper into the swarming pod until we were surrounded. These requiem sharks ranged from two to three meters in length and were mostly female, bearing some prodigious scarring from rough males – it was, after all, mating season. To us they seemed much more imposing from the perspective of the coral seabed. And far more thrilling!

As freedivers, we have the benefit of diving without noisy, artificial equipment and an absence of bubbles which can distract. We are free to move fluidly, almost like fish — so much so that marine life such as sharks are far more curious of us and will come close to inspect us. Intensely close, in fact. Surrounded on all sides, and even above us, these powerful creatures carved through the water without hindrance, sliding within a foot of our bodies and faces, their beady black eyes betraying no emotion yet conveying the sense of a primitive creature built on pure instinct alone.

Sidetracked is an adventure travel magazine and online journal featuring personal stories of exploration and expedition. Follow the mag on Facebook and Twitter.

This entry is excerpted with permission from an article that originally appeared in Sidetracked Volume One. Sidetracked Volume Two is out on September 1st and is available for pre-order.

Free Diving With Sharks

Video: Courtesy of ©One Ocean One Breath

More One Ocean One Breath

On a Single Breath (Sidetracked)
Freediving with Sharks in Roatan, Honduras – Photo Essay (The Guardian)
Hard Driven: An Interview with Champion Freediver, Christina Saenz de Santamaria (Vice)

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